May 25, 2013 9:36:40 PM
A rose to our veterans as we honor the men and women who have made our great nation the land of the free and the home of the brave. When lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key penned the national anthem, our country was closing in on its 38th birthday, only slightly older than Key himself.
Based on historical data compiled by the United States Department of Defense, more than 1.3 million military men and women have traded their lives for our freedom since the American Revolution. Finding an exact number is difficult, because as the war continues in Afghanistan, the totals change daily.
This Memorial Day, as you enjoy time with your families, take a moment to reflect on that number. Behind every statistic lies a person who was loved. Someone's father or son, mother or daughter.
Find a veteran and say thank you. In our community, you won't have to look far.
Speaking of which, we'd like to offer a rose to those who have honored our veterans this week.
We have seen flags everywhere, from one peeping from the window of a historic home on Seventh Street North to the sea of red, white and blue dotting the lawn of First Baptist Church in downtown Columbus.
A tipster let us know about veteran Marine Ed Kuykendall, 85, who stands in front of his Fourth Street South home at 8 a.m. every morning and solemnly raises Old Glory.
Drs. Richard and Judie Holmes lost their son, Richard E. Holmes II, in 2011 when he committed suicide shortly after separating from the United States Army. Suicide is one of the darker statistics, with an estimated 18 veterans a day ending their lives.
With that in mind, the Holmeses used their grief to form the Richard E. Holmes II Memorial Foundation, which helps returning veterans as they transition from active duty to civilian life. Today, from 2-5 p.m. at the Columbus Riverwalk, the Foundation will hold its first annual Veterans Memorial Walk/Run. Proceeds will go toward funding the group's efforts.
And local veteran Wayne White, founder of the Columbus War Museum in the Municipal Complex, put together another outstanding program Thursday, inviting Vietnam veteran Turner Jackson to speak about his experiences.
White's passion for keeping our community's military history alive is evident in the time and effort he puts into both the museum and his quarterly programs, creating a living memorial to those who have fallen.
And in remembering those who have passed, we would be remiss if we did not offer a rose of condolence to the Brown family and a rose of thanks to rescue workers and volunteers who spent four days searching Luxapalila Creek for the bodies of Justin Brown, 9, and Jason Brown, 6.
The boys were among six people who were swept into the swollen creek in an ATV accident May 18, and though people onshore tried to save them, the currents were too swift.
It is in times like these, times marred by tragedy and marked by tears, that our community shows both its mettle and its compassion. Hundreds turned out to aid in rescue and recovery efforts, and when the boys were found, a city mourned.
Hold your loved ones close this weekend. Life is short and too easily frittered away, siphoned by the meaningless. Use your time and talents wisely. There may not be another day to say, "Thank you" or "I love you" or "I'm sorry."
And of all the words we spin each day, these are perhaps the only ones that count.
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